Universal Access To All Knowledge
Home Donate | Store | Blog | FAQ | Jobs | Volunteer Positions | Contact | Bios | Forums | Projects | Terms, Privacy, & Copyright
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload

Reply to this post | Go Back
View Post [edit]

Poster: AltheaRose Date: Oct 26, 2010 10:01pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Comparing Bob and Jerry

No, I don't mean "who was the better guitarist" or "who had a better collection of short shorts." This is a question about songwriting. One thing that has struck me about a lot of Bob's songs is that they seem more complex musically than Jerry's. I don't mean "better." I just mean it's as if he was always trying to do more experimenting with beats or chord changes or whatever.

Now, of course, I fully admit that I'm talking through my hat (just in case that wasn't obvious, LOL). The way I hear music is definitely more intuitive than informed, since I'm not a musician, unless you count piano lessons as a kid and the usual effort to strum guitar.

But it does occur to me that there are folks here who actually DO know their stuff musically, so I'm wondering: Is my intuition correct? Is Bob's songwriting more complex structurally? (Not more gorgeous or lilting or whatever, but more complex.) How would you describe the differences?

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Oct 27, 2010 5:51am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

I get what you're driving at AR, but I would call Weir's compositions more ambitious or "intricate." He likes experimenting with more chord changes (Let it Grow, PITB) and unusual time signatures (Estimated). Garcia songs, on the other hand, are more informed and enriched by the traditional "American music" vocabulary that he studied for years. His knowledge of this music was encyclopedic. For me, Dark Star is rich in complexity, even though the whole band gets credit for composition. That's one of my reasons for loving the GD - always ready to test boundaries musically. They can take a simple 2 chord vamp and stretch it out for 20 minutes, like Eyes, or play in 11/8 time - I can't think of another band that can do that.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: AltheaRose Date: Oct 27, 2010 6:24am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

Aha. I like that phrasing ... intricate and ambitious vs. complex in the sense of musically informed. That makes sense to me.

Sounds like I'm right, then, that Bob was trying to do more with the structure (you mentioned time signatures and chord changes). See, that's the kind of stuff I don't know for sure, although it sounds like it to me (though I couldn't say for sure where and what the chord changes are, etc ... )

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Mandojammer Date: Oct 27, 2010 7:03am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

UJ - Glad you called out the time signature part. Interesting (or not) story - about a month ago my son and I were headed off to see the Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio here in Va Beach. I had a CD in, can't remeber which show it was, and Estimated was playing. Out of the blue, my son looks over and remarks something along the line of "Whatever made them decide to go with a 7/4 signature?"

He plays guitar and has an understanding of time signatures. Other than riding with me he doesn't listen to the Dead that much - I thought it was pretty cool that he caught it and figured it out.

You should check out some of Umphrey's McGee material. They have several songs with multiple time signature changes within a single song - with some of the shifts coming within a measure. Not sure if the song worked out that way, or if they decided to do the time shifting and wrote the song around that concept.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: AltheaRose Date: Oct 27, 2010 8:56am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

>"Whatever made them decide to go with a 7/4 signature?"

I'm impressed; I can't do that! Neither can my kid. Well, at least he likes Dark Stars, so there's hope :-)

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: DeadRed1971 Date: Oct 27, 2010 7:38pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

Playin's intro and reprise intro is in a 10/8 time signature. Its predecessor was The Main Ten. You can hear 7-8-9-10 being counted out before the first note is played on numerous live recordings.

Example:
http://www.archive.org/details/gd1972-09-16.matrix.sb20.chappell.77442.flac16



This post was modified by DeadRed1971 on 2010-10-28 02:38:45

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Diamondhead Date: Oct 27, 2010 10:10am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

This helps me. Listen to PITB, start counting when the singing starts. You'll notice that the song's phrasing and pauses are on seven counts. Just keep counting 1 through 7 and you'll likely start to hear the beat in the musical phrasing too. Or, you'll want to reach across the world and strangle me.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Oct 27, 2010 11:02am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

Even easier with The Eleven - count fast with Billy - 1-2-3-4-5-6- 1-2-3-4-5... really gives this song its own unique flavor.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: AltheaRose Date: Oct 27, 2010 6:53pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

Yeah, I actually figured that out with the Eleven. Given that it's called The Eleven. (The more obvious the hint, the better :-) )

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: drspark61 Date: Oct 27, 2010 9:25pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

I think of Bob's stuff as modular -- disparate pieces cobbled together, sometimes to good effect (PITB), sometimes not (Victim -- although I like it in its own weird wsy). Heavily arranged.

Garcia is all about the melody.

I think this was alluded to in one of Gans' books when they were talking about rehearsing new material. Jerry would introduce a new song by strumming the changes, and everyone would join in when they got it. By contrast, Bob would go over the different parts individually.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: midnightcarousel Date: Oct 27, 2010 6:55am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

Jerry churned out plenty of complexity too. Examples:

Crazy Fingers (there's some huge amount of chords in this song, and they're all pretty bizarre on paper)
High Time (totally weird and crazy changes)
Doin' That Rag

Lots of others. Then of course you have songs like Franklin's Tower and Fire on the Mountain, which literally consist of 2 or 3 chords in the whole song.

Not sure how I'd compare Bob and Jerry as songwriters; after a certain point I'd say Bob became a damn good writer and transcended his tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be. However, I guess it kinda appears that Jerry was a wicked songwriter from the beginning (Cream Puff War, Golden Road!). I guess I agree when people say that Jerry had an innate sensibility for how to make simple things innovative, and Bob sometimes resorted to gimmicks, which, despite their gimmickry, frequently worked.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: ringolevio Date: Oct 27, 2010 7:16am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

Agree with both of your posts, re: his tendency to make things more complicated than they needed to be, probably from insecurity, yet happily many of them work pretty well anyway. Personally I don't really care for Lost Sailor; it drags and drones. I tolerate it because it means Saint of Circumstance is coming up.

Obviously Bob was personally hampered by being in Jerry's shadow. You may say this is simply deserved because he wasn't as good; but it becomes a chicken before the egg thing. Who's to say? It might be that he would be completely unknown if he hadn't been associated with Jerry Garcia, and have given it all up and become an accountant. And it might be that he'd have more truly "found himself" musically if he'd never known Jerry Garcia!

He is, however, still writing songs. His great days as a performer are over, as he is simply too old now to be a screaming rock star. Yet he may write some good songs we haven't heard yet!

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: midnightcarousel Date: Oct 27, 2010 7:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

Funny, I always loved Lost Sailor, I'd say I like it better than Saint of Circumstance. The latter is real good but the cheese factor really kills it for me sometimes.

Sho don't know what I'm goin' fo'
But I'm gonna go fo' it fo' sho!

Come on, guys. Especially as it's repeated like 20,000 times in a single performance of the tune.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: fenario80 Date: Oct 27, 2010 9:25am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

I am totally with you on this one. I love Lost Sailor, the music is absolutely beautiful. Since lyrically they are basically the same song, I've never seen any reason for "Saint" except for the insane jam in the middle, which in my book was never long enough.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Oct 27, 2010 7:41am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

I'm with you on this one .

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Diamondhead Date: Oct 27, 2010 12:00pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

Hey I agree. And and then there was that 'fo sho'. Sort of made me cringe. Remember, I grew up with Amos and Andy. :)

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: ringolevio Date: Oct 27, 2010 7:35am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

It's true the lyrics are dopey :)

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: AltheaRose Date: Oct 27, 2010 8:07am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

True. But I like them anyway. I guess it's all set and setting.

I'm not big on Lost Sailor; don't hate it, but it's more of a meditative break. Or a bathroom break, since you know you've got TWO songs that are kinda skippable. Though it's always good to be back by, say, the 47th "fo sho." Then you've got at least another 53 to enjoy.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: fenario80 Date: Oct 27, 2010 9:27am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

I'm no musician either, but there is no question that Bob's songs are famously more complicated than Jerry's. Jerry said many times that was why he enjoyed playing them, they were a challenge.

I've been listening to a lot of JGB lately and am quite taken with Jerry's support/rhythm playing. I was hoping this was a thread about guitar styles, as in what if the GD had a rhythm player who played rhythm the way Jerry did? Interesting to think about: they would have been tighter, rocked harder, and quite possibly been much less interesting.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: ringolevio Date: Oct 27, 2010 10:31am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

>I've been listening to a lot of JGB lately and am quite taken with Jerry's support/rhythm playing. I was hoping this was a thread about guitar styles, as in what if the GD had a rhythm player who played rhythm the way Jerry did? Interesting to think about: they would have been tighter, rocked harder, and quite possibly been much less interesting.

Interesting ... (also on a JGB binge over here ...)

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: ice9freak Date: Oct 27, 2010 6:15am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

I think you're right--on the whole Bob's writing is probably more "complex," although Jer had his moments. "Help>Slip" comes to mind--probably the closest to "prog" the boys ever got.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: waynecs Date: Oct 28, 2010 5:17am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

Jerry himself was quoted as saying that he loved playing Bobby's songs because they were so challenging.


OTOH I usually sing Mexicali Blues in the shower,not one of the more complicated ones.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: AltheaRose Date: Oct 28, 2010 5:32am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

You don't sing Looks Like Rain?

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: William Tell Date: Oct 27, 2010 6:14am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

Frankly, showing my bias, but literally having grown up with them, I always assumed B didn't know how to write songs til he learned it from J & P. Seriously--hope this isn't going to get RLO mad.

Now, he did either literally or figuratively, in my view, grow up in the band, and I would say that JG was the "smarter" song writer for sure. This sounds like a another call to arms for RLO, but if you just follow the first six yrs, comparing what J does for the band, and then what B does, it's straight forward. Compare Aox to Ace, and as Bob matures, he starts doing more, but I am not sure Ace tunes are that complex. Post 72, I can see an aspect of what you're driving at, but not sure I wouldn't say he's trying to "do too much" just as JG said he was in his early writing...

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: midnightcarousel Date: Oct 27, 2010 6:53am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

Weir still had the ability to write songs that were simple but still had some real impact. Examples include Mexicali Blues, Greatest Story Ever Told, One More Saturday Night, Black Throated Wind. And frankly I think a lot of his more ambitious compositions actually work - Lost Sailor, Throwing Stones, as cheesy as they are, are pretty well composed in my opinion.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: ringolevio Date: Oct 27, 2010 7:13am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

Why, how dare you ... :O) joking ...
I basically agree with you. I don't think it disses Bob to state that he grew up with the band and learned how to write songs from Jerry; he did quite literally. Didn't his mother used to drive around looking for him, pleading with the band to try to make him go to school? He was just a kid.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Dudley Dead Date: Oct 27, 2010 7:43am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

Agree with most of what has been said . Both of them evolved over the years , Jerry always kept melody in the forefront , while Bob could have melody in his songs, WRS sure has it , but later he, like just about everyone else, has trouble getting a "tune" . Compare 'Easy Answers', and 'Corrina" with "So Many Roads', and "Days Between" .
IT would be nice to say it was all Garcia's soulfulness that led to the simplicity in his writing, but some of it was his dislike of songwriting , and his , frankly , his sometimes laziness . Hunter commented on that interview, an extra on the the JGB dvd, about one thing he had a problem with Garcia, was his lack of attention to his songwriting craft . Implied that he (Hunter) worked hard , and took his time with the lyrics, while Garcia rushed through his side of the song writing . I sometimes wonder if this is why some of Jerry's songs sound like other ones he has written . I remember Garcai saying , in regard to songwriting . " I would rather feed the cat ", and the way it is said , sounds like he doesn't like to feed the cat ! I just see him, withe re refrigerator door open , and the cat loudly meowing, and he going "shutup, shut up"!

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Oct 27, 2010 8:57am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

Agree with this... and find some of his earlier songwriting better than latter stuff. You can make the case the Standing on the Moon is too simple - but Days Between really is a brutally simple setting, certainly intended to show off the lyrics rather than the tune.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: AltheaRose Date: Oct 27, 2010 9:00am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

Well, he apparently trained his cat to eat melon balls. So feeding the cat might actually have been pretty entertaining.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: RBNW....new and improved! Date: Oct 27, 2010 12:06am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

apples and oranges ! on paper , technically Bob is the obvious choice.....but add heart and soul...well, you do the math!

This post was modified by RBNW....new and improved! on 2010-10-27 07:06:10

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Diamondhead Date: Oct 27, 2010 10:14am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

Here's the way I would look at it. Which songs are you likely to sing in the shower where no one can hear you?

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: ringolevio Date: Oct 27, 2010 6:09pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

Not a good test for me - I sing everything.

Reply to this post
Reply [edit]

Poster: Diamondhead Date: Oct 27, 2010 9:19pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: Comparing Bob and Jerry

I can't sing anything. But I'm a really good listener!